Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delaware Minor Parties Score Major Victory Over the Machine

The minor parties in the State of Delaware deserve a huge pat on the back for working together against an oppressive squeeze tactic. Back in 2009 Delaware certified and ballot qualified all major and minor parties in accordance with the agreed upon guidelines at that time. Minor parties then were required to have no less than ~350 registrants to be considered "ballot qualified" provided they could come up with the required fees, etc.

In 2010, the Delaware Department of Elections (specifically Director Elaine Manlove) asked the Delaware legislature to draft a bill that would double the size and scope of minor party membership for ballot qualification to more than 700 members. That meant that parties like the Constitution Party, Working Families Party and even Delaware's own "Blue Enigma" Party were in jeopardy of losing their ballot qualifications and by extension and exclusively third party candidates would lose the opportunity to run for office, despite any money raised/spent since 2009. The bill (HB245) was rushed through the General Assembly and signed by Markell. There was one little problem.

The Constitution Party wasn't going to back down from the machine. They worked with other minor parties in Delaware to come up with a coalition across party lines to fight back against the law that by all designs appeared to be changing the rules in the middle of the game. Earl Lofland and Pell Sherman led the fight against Dover's attacks and mounted a legal challenge. The State of Delaware Attorney General's office investigated the law and it's implications. Deputy AG Ann Wolfolk returned a suggestion last week that the Delaware Department of Elections contact the state legislature and ask them to delay the portion of HB245 pertaining to minor parties ballot qualifications until AFTER the 2010 general election in November. The AG's office understood that both morally and legally, changing the rules in the middle of the game is wrong. Legally the state (therefore the Department of Elections) would likely lose a court challenge by the Constitution Party and be forced to pay costs, damages and more to the minor parties. Manlove has since asked the legislature to write and quickly pass said bill to ensure that it is protected against legal action.

Thank you Earl Lofland and Pell Sherman (as well as others from many other minor parties who stood with Earl and Pell) for your hard work and dedication to fighting for what is right and just.

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